Pepe, left, celebrates after scoring the winner for Real on Sunday. Lluis Gene / AFP
Pepe, left, celebrates after scoring the winner for Real on Sunday. Lluis Gene / AFP

‘We haven’t had many chances to cut the gap ... so I am very satisfied’ says Ancelotti after Real inch closer



Real Madrid moved to within three points of La Liga leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Espanyol on Sunday.

Portuguese defender Pepe got the only goal of the game when he rose highest to head home Luka Modric’s free-kick 10 minutes after half-time.

Cristiano Ronaldo should then have added to his side’s lead on a number of occasions.

But despite their star man having an off night in front of goal, Madrid comfortably held on for the three points as Espanyol created nothing of note after falling behind.

“I am satisfied with how we played because we had a good balance, we played good football and kept trying to score until the last minute,” said Real boss Carlo Ancelotti.

The Italian also hailed the importance of his side taking advantage of Atletico and Barca’s 0-0 draw on Saturday to bring themselves right back into the title race.

“It was an important moment. We haven’t had many chances to cut the gap because the top two teams have been doing very well so I am very satisfied.

“It is not normal to need 100 points to win the league, but this is the Spanish league and there are three very strong teams.

“To win this league you need 100 points and that is what we need to get. It will not be easy but we have the hunger and will to do it.”

Espanyol had started on the front foot and should have been in front after just three minutes when Cristian Stuani skewed his header wide when unmarked just six yards out.

Thereafter, though, Madrid had the better of the chances in the first-half without ever completely dominating the game.

Ronaldo uncharacteristically fluffed his lines after Karim Benzema’s fine solo run down the left had freed the Portuguese inside the area.

Espanyol keeper Kiko Casilla also had to beat away Angel di Maria’s long-range drive and a free-kick from Ronaldo.

However, the visitors best chances of the first 45 minutes came just before the break when Modric led a counter-attack, but after feeding Di Maria the Argentine failed to pick out one of four available teammates. The ball eventually fell to Gareth Bale and his cross was headed just wide by Benzema.

Madrid did make the breakthrough 10 minutes into the second-half as Modric’s free-kick towards the back post was powerfully headed low into the far corner by the unmarked Pepe.

For Ronaldo, who is expected to pick up his second Ballon d’Or in Zurich on Monday, frustration continued to build as he also dragged an effort wide after being released by Di Maria.

Bale was starting a league game for the first time in nearly a month and his looked short of match sharpness as he contributed little before being replaced by Jese Rodriguez 15 minutes from time.

Casilla produced a stunning one hand save to prevent Ronaldo once more as he bore down on goal and Ronaldo then somehow fired wide with Casilla prone on the floor having parried Benzema’s initial effort.

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

The low down

Producers: Uniglobe Entertainment & Vision Films

Director: Namrata Singh Gujral

Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Nargis Fakhri, Bo Derek, Candy Clark

Rating: 2/5

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh1.05 million ($286,000)

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

Company Profile

Company name: OneOrder

Started: October 2021

Founders: Tamer Amer and Karim Maurice

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Industry: technology, logistics

Investors: A15 and self-funded

School counsellors on mental well-being

Schools counsellors in Abu Dhabi have put a number of provisions in place to help support pupils returning to the classroom next week.

Many children will resume in-person lessons for the first time in 10 months and parents previously raised concerns about the long-term effects of distance learning.

Schools leaders and counsellors said extra support will be offered to anyone that needs it. Additionally, heads of years will be on hand to offer advice or coping mechanisms to ease any concerns.

“Anxiety this time round has really spiralled, more so than from the first lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Priya Mitchell, counsellor at The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi.

“Some have got used to being at home don’t want to go back, while others are desperate to get back.

“We have seen an increase in depressive symptoms, especially with older pupils, and self-harm is starting younger.

“It is worrying and has taught us how important it is that we prioritise mental well-being.”

Ms Mitchell said she was liaising more with heads of year so they can support and offer advice to pupils if the demand is there.

The school will also carry out mental well-being checks so they can pick up on any behavioural patterns and put interventions in place to help pupils.

At Raha International School, the well-being team has provided parents with assessment surveys to see how they can support students at home to transition back to school.

“They have created a Well-being Resource Bank that parents have access to on information on various domains of mental health for students and families,” a team member said.

“Our pastoral team have been working with students to help ease the transition and reduce anxiety that [pupils] may experience after some have been nearly a year off campus.

"Special secondary tutorial classes have also focused on preparing students for their return; going over new guidelines, expectations and daily schedules.”

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Armies of Sand

By Kenneth Pollack (Oxford University Press)
 

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside


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